Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Recipe of the day

The Seashore - Gouache

Stuffed Mussels 
(Mejillones Rellenos - Tigres)  

This tapa is not as popular today in the bars as it once was, but I like it so much that I make it whenever I find fresh mussels.

1 1/2 dozen mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
3 tablespoon water
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoon white wine
1/2 cup mussel liquid
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water
4 tablespoon fine dry breadcrumbs
 Olive oil for frying

Steam open the mussels. Put them in a deep pan with the water. Cover the pan and put over a high heat, shaking the pan, until the shells open. Remove from heat and discard any mussels that do not open.
Mussels can also be opened in a microwave. Place them in a microwave-safe bowl, partially covered, and microwave at full power for one minute. Stir and microwave one minute more. Remove any mussels that have opened and microwave one minute more. Again remove open ones. Repeat twice more. Discard any mussels that have not opened.
When mussels are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the empty half shells. Loosen the mussel meat from the bottom shell and arrange the mussels in their shells on a tray in a single layer. Strain the mussel liquid and reserve it.
Heat the two tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and sauté the minced onion until it is softened, without letting it brown. Stir in the flour, cook for a minute, stirring, then whisk in the wine and the mussel liquid. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Put a spoonful of this white sauce onto each mussel and smooth it level with the top of the shell.
Refrigerate until the sauce is firmly set, at least one hour. Place the beaten egg in one dish and the bread crumbs in another. Dip the mussels, open face down, first into egg, then bread crumbs. Arrange them on the tray in a single layer. (The mussels can be prepared up to this point, then frozen. Freeze them in one layer, then pack them carefully in a freezer bag or plastic container. Let them thaw at least one hour before continuing with the preparation.)
To fry the mussels, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan. Fry them in two or three batches, breaded side down, until golden brown. Drain briefly on paper towels and serve hot.

Tigres - Stuffed Mussels

Saturday, 23 April 2011


  You can't expect to live by  the seaside and not be tempted to paint the glorious vistas.
Here are a few samples of my paintings and sketches of Blackpool and Rossall beach.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Sepia ink

Sepia a la plancha. A favourite dish in Spain

Sepia, also know as squid or cuttlefish is a favourite dish, eaten by the Spanish. The common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis, has been found in the Mediterranean, North and Baltic Seas, although populations have been proposed to occur as far south as the South Africa.
The name Sepia refers to the type of ink it houses within its body. This ink is used to deceive large predators when they try to attack the cuttlefish. When a predator is near, the ink is shot out into the water to confuse the predator, while the cuttlefish swims (jets) to safety. Sepia is obtained from the ink sacs of these invertebrates.

Historically, artists used sepia for their pen and ink drawings. Sepia was prized for writing and for drawing during the classical era. Many of the great histories and literary masterpieces of Greco-Roman thought were first penned in sepia ink.This means that many of the masterpieces of draftsmanship were also created with sepia ink. A particularly effective and pleasing style was to sketch something in watered down sepia washes and finish the details with black india ink.
Although other inks took the place of sepia for writing, it maintained its place in the artist’s studio up until the late nineteenth century when it was supplanted by synthetic pigments.

Today, however, the term sepia is used to describe the brownish tint of old photographs. Rather than being true black and white photos, they have a warmer wash of brown over them.

Below is a selection of my pen and ink illustrations using sepia ink

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Recipe of the day

Redcurrants painted in Acrylic

Redcurrant Sorbet

Redcurrants provide some vitamin C but less than blackcurrants. Low in calories and sodium. Currants are high in fiber, cholesterol-free and provide a good source of potassium.

Serves 4
500g redcurrants
300g caster sugar
3 tablespoons elderflower cordial
300 ml/half a pint of water

Remove redcurrants from stems, wash and put in a pan with 2 tbsp water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 5 mins until softened. Push through a sieve to make a purée. Stir in the elderflower cordial and set to one side to cool.

Put the caster sugar in a pan with 300ml/½pt water and leave over a low heat for 5 mins until the sugar dissolves. Raise heat and boil for 10 mins.

Tip redcurrant mixture into syrup and mix. Return to the boil, turn down and simmer for 2 mins. Cool, pour into a container and freeze for 3-4 hrs until frozen. Scoop into shot glasses and top with redcurrants

Adults only
Subsitute the elderflower cordial for elderflower wine or vodka

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Spanish Fruit 'The Nispero'


There is nothing more wonderful than to walk into the garden and be able to eat fruit straight from the tree.
This was the case on my last holiday in Spain. This delightful, underrated little gem 'the Nispero' know in English as 'the Loquat', is a truly versatile fruit. It is eaten as a fresh fruit and goes well with other fruits in fruit salads. They are sweetest when soft and orange.

In Spain, the fruit is commonly used to make jam, jelly and chutney,or can be poached in light syrup.  Firm, slightly immature fruits are best for making pies or tarts. The fruit can also be used for wine.

Originally the tree was found commonly in China but now over 800 varieties can be found across Europe, Asia and Africa.

Offering a first-rate source of vitamin A, potassium, beta carotene, fiber and carbohydrates, loquats are low in calories.

So next time you are on holiday, and come across 'Loquats' - why not give them a try?

Loquat Jam

Monday, 4 April 2011

Recipe of the day

Tortilla de Espinacas
(Spinach Omelette)

Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (Iran). Spinach made its way to China in the 7th century when the king of Nepal sent it as a gift to this country. Spinach has a much more recent history in Europe than many other vegetables.
It was only brought to that continent in the 11th century, when the Moors introduced it into Spain. In fact, for a while, spinach was known as "the Spanish vegetable" in England.
Spinach has a high nutritional value and is extremely rich in antioxidants. It is also considered to be a rich source of iron.

Serves 4-6

12 small eggs or 9 large, beaten
I large bag, pre-washed, baby spinach
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a frying pan. Fry but do not burn the garlic. Place the whole packet of spinich into the pan, a handful at a time. Cook for 1 minute. Add the eggs and blend into the spinach. Season.
Cook slowly, turning often until the omelette is cooked.

Fo a fuller, more substantial omelette, add sliced, cooked, potatoes at the same time as the spinach.